It's been exactly one year since I signed my first contract with Entranced Publishing. My debut novel, Time Changes Everything was then released in May 2013. Since signing in August 2012, I've signed three other novels and have two more waiting for a home. So, in honor of my one year, I've bundled up a bunch of newbie tips for newbies out there!
Tip #1: Don’t give up! Yeah, yeah, this is completely clichéd, I know. But, I almost gave up. I began writing Time Changes Everything seven years ago while on maternity leave. Then mothering got in the way and I had to put it to the side. If it weren’t for my husband giving me a little push to finish the novel last year, I wouldn’t have. So, even if you have to put your writing to the side, don’t forget to get back to it once the inspiration hits again.
Tip #2: Do your research on publishers! I’m a Harlequin girl. Since I was a teenager, I had stacks of Harlequin category romance next to my bed. After receiving a rejection from them on Time Changes Everything – I was heartbroken. What we writers need to realize is that there are more than one romance publisher out there. Actually, there are many fabulous publishers – including small presses who I’ve had the best experiences with. Check them out on Duotrope.com or google the different sites. You'll find a good match somewhere!
Tip #3: Find untraditional ways to submit your work! I love this tip, because with my first two publishers, I did not take the traditional route – sending a query and partial through email, waiting months for the news, etc. With Time Changes Everything, I saw a pitch contest on www.romanceuniviersity.com website with Entranced Publishing. So, I decided to go for it (see Tip #1). I’m so happy I did. I pitched my story and within a few weeks had contract in hand. I secured my second contract with Crimson Romance through a Twitter pitch session earlier this year. Yep. I sold my book to the editor with a 140-line pitch. Two weeks later, I had a book deal! So, again, find untraditional routes. It’s quicker, it’s fun and it’s great practice. Here’s a post I wrote about my pitching experience and places you can find to pitch your book:
Tip #4: Know the editing tricks of the trade! I had a major newbie fail with Time Changes Everything. I’d never heard of Track Changes in word, so when I first edited my novel, I didn’t use track changes. FAIL! I had to teach myself how to use the program and I’m glad I did. It seems this is the way editors work with writers in the industry. Here’s an explanation of my experience and a simple guide to help you if you don’t know about Track Changes: http://melindadozier.blogspot.com/2012/12/road-to-publishing-major-newbie-author.html
Tip #5: You will have to kill your little darlings! When you first get your edits back, be ready to cry, shout, scream, yell, throw things – because it’s painful. Your ‘baby’ will be practically eaten alive. Opening up your edits and seeing red marks all over it is quite disarming at first. My advice is to sit down with a glass of wine, take a deep breath, open the document and read through. Then set it aside for a day – take it all in – and realize that your editor knows what he or she is doing. They’re the expert. Their goal is to sell your book, not torture you. Then when you’re ready, get to work. As Steven King said, “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
Tip #6: Make your presence known! You want exposure and you want to find out all you can about the industry. Create an online presence. Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest are all great places to create your brand. You can also make lifelong author friends. Both my editors have told me that a writer’s online presence is important to them. They check writer’s out before signing them. If you need to create a blog, do it NOW! And if you want to follow me, find me on Twitter www.twitter.com/melindadozier.